Good Advice (In Cartoons)

For college coaches whose programs do not offer full scholarships, here is something to consider for the student-athletes that you are recruiting…shark


Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo



Saban’s Culture Makes it a Smart Choice to Keep Kirby On


Tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championship features three college football head coaches: Alabama’s Nick Saban, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Georgia’s Kirby Smart.

Smart is currently the Alabama Defensive Coordinator who was recently named Head Coach at the University of Georgia.

Due to college football’s schedule, Smart has had to assume both roles, as Saban has allowed him to remain on staff and finish Alabama’s run at their fourth national championship in seven years.

Clearly, Saban feels comfortable that Kirby will be ultra focused on getting his defense ready to the best of his ability, even though Saban knows Kirby will be dedicating some of his time to putting a staff together at Georgia and recruiting against Alabama and other SEC rivals.

Here are a few articles that give some perspective on Kirby’s unique situation:–georgia-roles-ahead-of-playoff-214830041-ncaaf.html

This dual role is interesting for me to fathom as a college basketball coach.

Due to the calendar/schedule, this is much more of a possibly in college football than college basketball. As a matter of fact, I have never heard of a team making a Final Four run with an Associate Head Coach/Assistant Coach who was already hired in another program, have you?

I think the sheer logistics on the coaching staff allow college football staff members to share some of the load of losing a coordinator or position coach. This would be much more difficult in my opinion on a college basketball staff because of 1) a small staff size and 2) the fact that in the tournament teams play Thursday/Saturday or Friday/Sunday on the first two weeks of the tournament. These back to back games would severely limit a coaches ability to do both jobs to the best of their ability.

Either way, the fact that Saban is allowing this shows the confidence he has in himself, his culture and Alabama as a brand.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


Confessions of a Coach

This confession by former University of Cincinnati Graduate Assistant, Al Hmiel, is sure to grab your attention.

Here Tim Sullivan gets a candid interview from the ex-coach and provides the audience with an eye opening piece for those not involved in college athletics at its highest level.

Having coached at the D1 Men’s Basketball level, I have heard stories like this, which I why I would tend to believe Hmiel’s account.


I would like to thank Joe Ticotsky, CT Starters AAU Girls Basketball Director, for sharing this article with me.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

“After Further Review…” – USC (Finally) Makes the Right Call & What Their Decision Can Teach Others in College Athletics

Yesterday, the University of Southern California announced that  Clay Helton was being named the permanent head coach, removing the interim tag he has assumed since replacing former head coach Steve Sarkisian on October 12th.

Helton went 5-2 since replacing Sarkisian as the interim head coach, and will play in the PAC-12 Championship game vs. Stanford this weekend.

Nevertheless, USC’s decision to keep Helton has raised some eyebrows. Many media members and alumni have said that USC needed a “big name” for a job this prestigious and that Helton was not a worthy hire.

However, based upon the student-athletes’ reactions I would beg to differ. Did you see the reaction of the USC player’s when USC Director of Athletics, Pat Haden, told them that Helton was being retained? (USC Player’s Reaction to Helton Being Named Head Coach)

Haden noted that, “after observing Clay in action the past seven weeks, it became abundantly clear that what we were searcing for in a coach was reight here in front of us.”

This hire is a risky one for Haden, who himself is on the hot seat for the hiring of Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin and how both of those tenures ended. Haden also hired former Florida Gulf Coast University Men’s Basketball Coach, Andy Enfield, who has not produced since his arrival in April of 2013.

Nevertheless, I believe that Haden observed Helton, listened to the student-athletes and saw immediate results, on and off the field.

Let us not forget that Haden had the chance to hire another interim head coach in Ed Orgeron, back in 2013. Orgeron replaced Lane Kiffin just five games into the 2013 season. Orgeron went 6-2 during his interim stint, bringing life back to the USC football program and was widely supported by his players.

Despite Orgeron’s efforts and popularity, Haden went with Sarkisian. Sarkisian was one of the key members of the staff during the Pete Carroll era, an era Haden desperately wanted to rekindle.

However, for USC that era was long gone. Haden was essentially hiring an alum thinking that would be a quick fix to get back to the glory days. He was wrong. Very wrong. Just like the Carroll era that ended with shame, so did Sarkisian’s short tenure.

Plain and simple, Haden learned from his mistake. Haden clearly hired the person who EARNED the job. It was not about politics or personal agendas or getting a “big name.” It was about hiring the best fit for the program at that particular point in the program’s history.

Helton PROVED that he can run a program by getting the student-athletes to buy in to his coaching philosophy, by recruiting at a high level and by winning games the right way.

Kudos to Pat Haden for making the right choice. Maybe his decision to listen to what he observed will influence other athletic directors to make decisions with their head versus media hype, political/personal  agendas or alumni/booster pressure.

Give ’em hell, Coach Helton!

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


Basketball Coach Weekly – Issue 107 – DeSalvo Article

I recently published an article for Basketball Coach Weekly – Issue 107 regarding AAU/High School student-athletes transferring to other programs.

I would like to thank all of those who were kind enough to give their feedback on this topic for this publication.

I appreciate Mark Katarski (Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Seton Hill University), Dave Saur (Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach, UMass-Lowell) and Jeff Osterman (Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach, University of South Florida) for their expertise and perspective on this subject matter. Their opinions and experiences give the article a tremendous amount of credibility.

I would also like to give a special thanks to Joe Ticotsky, Director of the CT Starters AAU program. I respect Coach Ticotsky’s opinion immensely and it is one that parents and players should also strongly consider.

Lastly, another special thanks to Ulysses Garcia and Heather Glezen, Co-Directors of the CT Attack AAU program who I had some great conversations with about this topic and helped inspire me to write this piece.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

“Saban: The Making of a Coach” – Book Notes

I recently finished Monte Burke’s “Saban: The Making of a Coach” (2015).

Not only is this a fascinating biography on one of the true coaching legends of our time, but it also provides some insights into Saban the man as well. From his childhood to his dynasty at Alabama, he are some notes I gathered from Burke’s work.

Saban-The Making of a Coach Notes

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Allocating Time in the Preseason

August means that college coaches everywhere are planning for the first few weeks of preseason conditioning as they gear up for the first day of school and official practice beginning right around the corner, in October.

It is interesting the different routes that coaches map out for their programs due to the NCAA restrictions regarding on-court time in the preseason. Many coaches use this time for team drills. Others may use it to implement offense/defensive systems. Some may use it for individual skill improvement or a combination of all of these strategies.

Logically, I believe the preseason philosophy that each program takes should support their head coach’s recruiting philosophy.

What does this mean?

It means that in the age where prospects who show “potential”, “upside” and “athleticism” trump those who are “fundamentally sound” or “a basketball player”, coaches need to focus on what these players need to be successful. Coaches who recruit student-athletes that have athleticism but lack strong basketball fundamentals, need to seriously consider allocating more time to their growth than putting in press defense, BLOB’s, etc.

Offensive and defensive schemes are all necessary and important but when does shooting, passing and dribbling – the fundamentals of the game – take precedent?

I personally do not think that coaches work on shooting, passing and dribbling enough. Many coaches get so enamored at putting “their stuff” in that fundamentals suffer. In addition, when systems are implemented in practice, what usually happens? It tends to lead to hurting the pace of practice/momentum and lots of standing around.

I think that as coaches it is easy to point fingers at student-athletes and say “these are different kids” and “when I was their age…”. As coaches it is our responsibility to our players and the game of basketball to not complain on the mindset of the current generation of players but instead help change their mindset and help them understand that nothing can replace the fundamentals of the game and hopefully make them value that as well.

Furthermore, if coaches are not willing to dedicate time in the preseason or regular season to skill development and individual improvement then they may consider recruiting more fundamentally sound players who at least have a reasonable foundation in fundamentals.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo